February 7, 2024

The meaning of thought leadership in demand generation

The meaning of thought leadership in demand generation
What can thought leadership mean for you to excel in 2024.

In 2024, things in business are getting trickier with a predicted economic slump. This means B2B (business-to-business) buyers will be even pickier than before. They’ll likely stick to suppliers they already know and trust.

How do you make sure you’re one of these trusted suppliers? Simple: by being a thought leader and implementing a demand generation strategy. In doing so, it’s important to make sales and marketing work together to create a unified approach and avoid siloed departments.

So, be the go-to person in your industry by adopting a buyer-centric approach. Being a thought leader is all about sharing relevant and valuable content, understanding your buyers’ needs, addressing problems and solutions, and opening discussions on various topics in your field.

This builds trust with potential customers and speeds up your sales process. You’ll be able to quickly tell which leads are ready for sales talks and which need more nurturing from marketing.

In short, it's all about earning the trust of those B2B decision-makers, making them see you as their go-to choice, even when budgets are tight.

What’s a thought leader?

Thought leaders are the people we know and trust to lead us through the storm of information… - Dan Sanchez

A thought leader is considered the go-to person in your specific field of expertise. As Dan Sanchez beautifully puts it, a thought leader cuts through the noise and offers real, valuable insights.

In a nutshell, a thought leader is someone your audience looks up to for advice and expertise.

Why become a thought leader through demand generation?

Think for a moment about the people you follow on a daily basis on social media platforms like LinkedIn, TikTok, Instagram, Pinterest, etc. These are all thought leaders in their own specific domains.

You trust them. You believe them. You think of them for help or inspiration.

That's the kind of relationship you want to build with your audience. But it's not just about posting on social media. It’s about crafting a strategy that makes you a trusted partner in your area of expertise.

Demand generation is perfect for this. It's not about pushing your product; it's about creating content that resonates with your audience and establishes trust. You have to understand your customer's goals and challenges to make an impact.  

In essence, you want B2B decision-makers to see you as the expert in a specific field by sharing valuable insights to create the following advantages for yourself.

  1. Building credibility: Thought leaders are recognized as authorities in their field, and their opinions and insights are sought after.
  2. Increase referrals:  According to a report by Heinz/Influitive, 84% of B2B decision-makers start the buying process with a referral. So boosting it will capture more sales-qualified leads.
  3. Differentiating an organization: Establishing thought leadership can help set an organization apart from its competitors and attract customers who value expertise and innovation.
  4. Engaging audiences: Thought leaders can engage with their target audience more effectively, starting conversations and building trust.
  5. Shortening the sales cycle: By being well-known and trusted, thought leaders can accelerate the sales process and attract new clients.
  6. Attracting top talent: Thought leaders can also attract skilled professionals who want to work with a company that values innovation and expertise.

Visionary thinking: Create an impact on your industry. Don’t follow the trends, but set them. That way, you create a lasting impact on your industry.

Let’s connect the dots by looking at how you can become a thought leader in your market through demand generation.

How to become a thought leader through demand generation

As mentioned before, avoid working in siloed departments. Instead,  create a demand generation strategy.

Furthermore, develop a personal brand strategy to establish your thought leadership. In the next part, we will walk you through a step-by-step roadmap of creating a thought leadership strategy.

How to build a personal brand strategy to become a thought leader

Today, your customers are led by instant gratification and influenced by a wealth of brands vying for their attention.

It's up to you to set yourself apart from your competitors. And one effective way to do this is by establishing yourself as a thought leader.

We have created a roadmap for you to apply easily. This roadmap has also been successfully implemented internally at Brandsome.

Take a look at some snapshots of our team's successful posts on LinkedIn.

1. Choose your field of expertise

Selecting a topic that aligns with your company's offerings and your own expertise is crucial. This focused approach ensures a consistent tone and schedule in your posts.

Concentrating on a specific area makes you more recognizable as an authority. Diverse topics might dilute your expertise.

This strategy builds trust with your audience and streamlines content creation, reducing time spent on less impactful topics. Your content becomes more targeted, valuable, and far from being just another drop in the ocean.

Oh, and stay authentic

Be yourself, not someone else. Authenticity is the key to success.

To help you stay true to yourself, we’ve outlined some essential questions:

  • What topics resonate with you?
  • Who is your target audience?
  • What are your objectives?
  • Why are you the go-to person on these subjects?
  • What sets you apart?

2. Have a clear goal in mind

Ensure that everything you do aligns with your goals. Start by clearly defining your objectives.

Whether it's growing your newsletter or securing more keynote speaker invitations, having well-defined goals allows you to tailor your ideas and actions accordingly.

3. By who do you want to be perceived as a thought leader?

Defining how you want to be perceived as a thought leader is crucial.

Creating and distributing content on topics that hold no interest for your ICPs is counterproductive. While it sounds logical, many individuals struggle with this when building and developing a personal brand.

To help you get started, we've outlined a 9-step blueprint for mastering hyper-personalization.

4. How to build your network

"The currency of real networking is not greed but generosity." - Keith Ferrazzi

Keith Ferrazzi's words remind us that true networking is about giving, not taking. At the heart of a good demand generation strategy is sharing knowledge to help others progress. Building your network means being active both online, by frequently sharing insights, and offline, by attending and speaking at industry events.

That's something we aim to do at Brandsome. Max and Maarten are involved with The Future and SINC, respectively, while Andy gives webinars to aspiring entrepreneurs.

By participating in podcasts and lectures, we're not just sharing knowledge; we're building our presence and credibility in our field and region.

5. Thought Leadership best practices

We know that the burning question on your mind right now is how often you should share content. Should you go for quality content or quantity?

Please make quality content. Too many people focus on quantity and posting every day of the year. While posting daily is great, it's only effective if the quality remains high.

But in reality, most of the content you find online is low-quality. And that's the stumbling block of AI. Creating content has become so easy that people no longer focus on quality.

AI can assist you in your content production process but isn’t a replacement for your expertise. So, the trick is to post as much as possible as long as the content you share remains high-quality.

Implement thought leadership in your demand generation strategy

Let's briefly refresh what a demand generation strategy looks like.

Freshened up? Integrating your thought leadership approach into a funnel is important, just like your demand generation strategy. Because in addition to all the brand awareness you generate, you also want to attract leads.

That's why we'd like to take a closer look at how to create a robust funnel to make it easy for your prospects to buy from you.

Let’s blend it

Demand generation involves three key stages: creating demand, identifying intent, and capturing demand. Thought leadership can be seamlessly integrated into this funnel.

To create demand, it’s essential to share your expertise in a valuable way. Therefore, you can create in-feed social media content, guides, and articles. Videos and a podcast will also work if you are more familiar with these kinds of content formats.

Next, it’s crucial for you to understand buyer intent to move prospects to the next phase of the funnel. Too often, we find ourselves trying tactics to force people to buy. And understandably so, as you usually do this with the best intentions because you have made a wrong assessment of your prospect's intentions.

But know that you can’t force someone to buy. If your prospect feels their freedom of choice is being threatened, they will resist. In psychology, this phenomenon is called reactance.

That's why it's important to determine whether your prospect is ready for sales talks or needs more nurturing from marketing.

If a prospect is ready to buy, focus on capturing demand. This involves clear, logical steps to convert interest into sales. Strategies here include writing articles with buyer-intent keywords, adopting account-based marketing, offering workshops, and hosting webinars related to your solution.

To capture demand, these are just a few examples to focus on with your thought leadership approach:

  • Write articles that focus on buyer-intent keywords.
  • Take on an account-based marketing approach.
  • Provide practical and in-depth workshops.
  • Host a webinar on a specific topic related to your solution.

That's how you can integrate your thought leadership approach with your demand generation strategy. This way, you establish a reputation and build credibility with your ICP. It's a sustainable way to let your audience get to know you and help them advance in both their personal and professional lives.


Establish trust by becoming a thought leader through demand generation

Becoming a thought leader through demand generation is about more than just throwing content out there and seeing what sticks. It's about being strategic, being genuine, and, most importantly, being useful to B2B buyers.

Even though business might get a bit tougher in the future, you can still be the one that customers think of first. How? By sharing your best ideas, helping solve their problems, and discussing things they care about.

The big idea is to mix these tips into your plan for getting customers interested. It's like making a cake and putting in the ingredients in the right order. Start by grabbing their attention, then understand what they really want, and finally, show them why they should choose you.

So take these insights, put them into action, and watch as you and your company grow into the thought leaders and trusted partners you're meant to be. Here's to making an impact that resonates today and for years to come!

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